Mimosa Case: Fear In School
by Karl-Josef Müller
is a 13 year old boy; he sits hunched up, opposite of me and throws only
sporadic looks in my direction. The way he holds his arms and legs show
a clear spastic involvement. Both parents accompanied him.
"Since the beginning of this school year Johannes has had problems. Even before he changed from primary school to junior high school he had a stomach ache and vomiting every morning. And then the ride on the school bus. Every change is a problem for him...the other children...the class rooms...the bus driver...getting jostled around in the bus. Before a test he is excited and has difficulties. The day before the test, at home, he knows his stuff.
"In primary school he was a good student. But since he changed into junior high, he has had this fear. Aching around the navel, vomiting twice to three times a week, this went on like that for the better part of a half year.
"Before tests he is anxious, complains about stomach ache, and has difficulty falling asleep.
(Observation: During this time Johannes had at least thrust out his lower jaw twenty times and blown air upwards toward his nose).
"Geometry is difficult. Physics too. He doesn't get along with the physics teacher." Johannes, close to tears: "The physics teacher sent a girl to the light switch and then gave her a bad mark because she got up from her place. At one time I was nauseous and the teacher allowed me to go outside for 10 minutes...I had to throw up...and I got a bad report. I cried and got it in the stomach." Now his voice is even closer to crying: "He said that I should walk properly, that I couldn't even walk properly." Now Johannes cries.
The mother reports: "Johannes was a premature baby at 7 months...C-section...hypoxia...he was transferred to the intensive care station for newborn babies and received artificial respiration for 5 days. Later he didn't feed enough...he received physical therapy. He was far behind in his development. He started to walk on his own only when he was four...he still receives physical therapy today. Later he took up therapeutic horse riding...one time he was thrown off and broke his arm. Since that time he is afraid. He continued with horse back riding for a little while longer, but then he cried and was afraid."
"Since age four he sees a neuro-orthopedic doctor and made great progress with walking. He wears splints on his legs at night. He couldn't walk until he was four. Specifically for that we drove to Switzerland to see a specialist. He recommended to put his legs in a cast for 14 days. After that Johannes started to walk! Unbelievable! Then came a precise training program with video analysis in slow motion. Johannes was afraid that the video camera would hit his legs. We are still seeing this specialist several times a year. In addition, he treats Johannes with some manipulatory therapies, atlas therapy and thermal baths. They have gymnastics and massages there as well. In the beginning, Johannes threw up frequently after the gymnastics. Splinting his legs avoided an operation."
"The right hand is often closed but too weak. The legs alternate: sometimes the right leg is better, sometimes the left. His left side is more stable. His legs are sometimes trembling. Sometimes he has a cramp in his right thigh. When this happens he shakes his leg, which helps. Because of all that he has problems with being on the school bus."
Johannes: "A friend of mine reserves a place for me. After school I am the first one to get a seat on the bus."
Mother: "Whenever there was something new, Johannes had problems: something new in math...that'll never work...it was the same with riding his tricycle...with the first toy bike...the go-cart."
I ask: "How is your appetite, Johannes?" He laughs and replies, "Big!" He likes spaghetti, pizza, lasagna, waffles, filled dumplings, pastry, potato dumplings. He dislikes sauerkraut, coco nut in anything. He doesn't eat fish because of the bones.
His sleep is good. "Johannes sleeps sucking on one of his fingers through the sleeve of his pajama.
Dreams? Johannes: "Playing soccer...what it is like to win. About tasks at school. I frequently dreamt how it was when I fell from the horse."
Other fears? Johannes: "Thunderstorms. Falling when I am not concentrated. It is important that I wear my splints at night."
Animals? Johannes: "I am afraid of dogs and minks. Once there was a mink in my grandpa's stable. I like horses, sheep, chickens, cats and ??"
Hobbies? Johannes: "Playing French horn, collecting stamps, soccer, reading sport magazines. Once in a while a book: The Five Friends and such."
Your dream job? Johannes: "Manager of a soccer team. My favorite colors are red and white. Or maybe I want to be a cook, because I like to eat." Mother: "He has bought a lot of cook books for me..."
How is he when he is reprimanded? Father: "He slams the door and leaves, crying. He is very sensitive. Just a firm word and he is cross. He cries easily." (Johannes has tears in his eyes again).
Three wishes? Johannes: "A season card for a local amusement park. That my favorite soccer team gets into the play offs. Better grades on my school report." Father: "In primary school at one time Johannes had a single mistake in a composition and got an A-. He sat in a corner and cried."
The pregnancy? Mother: "I am diabetic. When I was pregnant I was taking tablets. In the fifth month I had premature labor, for which I received Valium until I couldn't think clearly anymore. My biggest fear was that I didn't know what to expect, since it was my first child."
The mother's sister died at age 32 from a hepatic carcinoma, her mother died age 44 from a heart attack.
What did Johannes inherit from his father? Father: "That he feels everything he doesn't like in the stomach."
And what does he have from his moter? Mother: "The sensitivity. I take everything too literal and maybe over-react. Then I get cross."
Father: "He is sensitive like his mother but forgets it easily like his father."
General observation: Practically none of Johannes' answers went unaccompanied by crying or a tearful voice.